Today it has been one year. A whole year of being able to answer the question, “What do you do for a living?” with the answer, “I’m a children’s author.” To be honest, I still feel a little funny saying it, and I’m not sure I will ever be used to it. Probably because for most intents and purposes, I still identify with being a stay-at-home mom: I do almost all of my work in my own house (although I now have a dedicated office with a white board and a stapler and paper clips and everything)…my day-to-day tasks still seem to take precedence over my writing (as my blogging hiatus during the months of September, October, and most of November clearly demonstrated)…and I’m still mostly just famous for being “Mrs. Suellentrop” or “Michael’s mom” in the school parking lot (or “the lady who always orders a large half cheese/half sausage pizza” at Imo’s).
But today marks the one year anniversary of the release of my very first children’s book, Absolute Mayhem. I feel nothing but gratitude for how it has been received. Every time someone tells me their children ask to read it over and over, or that they caught them pretending to be Lulu or Milo, I am beyond tickled. Regardless of the future success of this book or those to follow, how could an author ask for anything more?
In addition to the blessings that have happened over the last twelve months, I have also come to learn some very valuable lessons in my first year of being a published author:
#1 Forget rousing, motivational pep talks. “What’s the worst that can happen?” works just fine. It turns out the boon of a realized dream or the promise of becoming the next Sandra Boynton were never the kick in the pants I needed to finally pursue a career as an author. All it took was someone posing the question, “What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer: I fail. Or no one buys the book. Or readers say it ranks as rubbish. Or Amazon creates a new suggestion category that reads, “People who bought this item, DIDN’T also buy…” just so they can publicly shame my title. Okay, so all of those things are pretty hard to swallow for a girl who really doesn’t like being bad at things. But confronting those possibilities also made me honestly admit to myself that a little potential public shame was worth the risk. Besides, we could always move to one of those tiny houses off the grid if need be. Have you seen the tiny houses? They are adorable.
#2 Pornography doesn’t just ruin lives…it ruins Amazon search results. Never, when dreaming of how conversations about my book would play out, did I ever imagine a scenario where I would have to say these words: “It’s on Amazon. You can just look it up. It’s the Absolute Mayhem that’s NOT the autobiography of a porn star.” You read that correctly. My innocent, rhyming, read-a-loud story about the whimsical imaginations of a sister and brother shares the same title as a book documenting the career of an adult film actress. *face palm* (see: “What’s the worst that can happen?”) Guess who will be more thoroughly Googling her working book titles from now on? Usually, I was at least made to feel better by the fact that when searching the phrase “absolute mayhem” on Amazon, my book came up first. But I recently noticed I had been knocked down to the #2 spot, which means I’m being outsold by porn. Come on, people! If you value Jesus, or little babies, or Sunday dinners, or fuzzy socks, or sliding doors on minivans, or ANYTHING…FOR THE LOVE OF THE AIR WE BREATHE, DON’T LET THE PORN TRUMP A KIDS’ BOOK!!! Let’s do a solid for society and all go buy a copy of MY Absolute Mayhem to restore order to the universe. It’s not for my benefit; it’s for the benefit of the world we’re leaving to our children.
#3 I am a horrible salesperson. Guess who is usually the last person to inform someone I am a children’s author with a published book that is available for purchase? Me. It’s not that I forget to mention it. It’s that I am ridiculous and think that sharing the information will somehow make the other person feel they are required to buy a copy right there on the spot, creating an awkward moment and reducing the chances of a sale to zero (which is weird, because the chances of them buying a book they don’t know about in the first place is ALSO zero). I don’t even like writing this blog post about the book. In fact, I’ve been performing self-flagellation the entire time I’ve been typing. (see: “Porn doesn’t just ruin lives”…no, wait. Nevermind.) Thankfully, I have wonderful family and friends who have stepped up to the plate as word-of-mouth salespeople, and they accept payment in thank you’s. The top earner is definitely my husband, who carries around copies in his car, tells random people we don’t even know that I’m published, and has actually changed the topic of conversation JUST so he can mention my book. God help us all if he decides to get behind Tupperware or essential oils.
#4 Kids are my favorite people. Ever. After the book’s release, I started visiting and Skyping elementary schools and preschools as a guest reader.* I could not have prepared myself for the level of enjoyment that comes from these visits. Sharing Absolute Mayhem “in the trenches” with little kids is, hands down, my favorite part of this author gig. To witness firsthand their excitement over finding Hippo the dog on each page or watching their minds anticipate how one of Lulu and Milo’s normal days will get turned upside down with Mayhem brings a pride and satisfaction in my work that all the compliments from peers couldn’t duplicate. Calling on a little girl who simply says, “Your drawings are beautiful,” or a little boy who asks, “How do I grow up to be an author like you?” melts me to puddle of mush. As a bonus, I also receive unsolicited hugs AND the most wonderfully random tidbits about pet poop, how many pairs of shoes Lily’s friend Maddie has, opinions about burritos, and what Charlie is getting his mom for her birthday next year. Not only that, but the kids send me the best drawings and reports on the book. In a word, it’s awesome.
(*Want me to visit or Skype with your school? You can send a request HERE.)
Happy 1st Birthday to Lulu & Milo (and Hippo, too)! Let’s celebrate with some Mayhem giveaways!
A Signed Copy of the First Anniversary Commemorative Edition of Absolute Mayhem (Okay, it’s just a regular copy of Absolute Mayhem. But if you want, I can write “First Anniversary Commemorative Edition” in it.) Enter to win it HERE.
A BRAND NEW Mayhem Gear T-Shirt. Just made available last week, your kids can now wear their Mayhem! Choose from one of two designs: “Mayhem Brigade” or “The Monkey Made Me Do It.” Comes in sizes 6 months – Youth Large. Enter to win HERE. (Or simply shop HERE. Other items like stickers, onesies, and notebooks are also for sale.)
You can earn extra entries by subscribing to my newsletter in the box below and by leaving a comment under this post on Facebook.
The giveaway will close December 7th and the winners will be announced on December 8th. Good luck! And if I haven’t said it enough this year, THANK YOU to everyone who has supported my work, cheered me on, and celebrated the book’s first birthday. Who knows? Maybe Absolute Mayhem will be getting a new sibling in the coming year…STAY TUNED!